Body-Pos Yogi Jessamyn Stanley Has a New Goal to Get Strong As Hell
You've seen her backbend into oblivion—but her new fitness goal might just be the furthest thing from that.
You likely know Every Body Yoga author Jessamyn Stanley for her outspoken (and always eloquent) views about the body-positive movement, yoga, and period pride. (For real: Period pride is part of the body-pos movement too.)
But soon she might be gracing your Instagram off the yoga mat-and under a barbell.
We caught up with Stanley behind the scenes while she was shooting an inspiring New Year's campaign with ClassPass. She shared how her perspective on resolutions and the body-pos movement have changed since becoming an icon, and the unexpected goal she just might crush this year. (Including the pending launch of her app, The Under Belly.)
Her #1 Goal for This Year
"People say this to me all the time about yoga: 'I'm scared to just go to class' or 'I'm scared to try it out,' and I say, 'Just go, it's no big deal!'-but I'm totally like that with non-yoga classes. I have to convince myself that I'm going to go and try it out, and that it's no big deal. That experience is something I want to harvest throughout this year so I can feel more comfortable with new things overall. So I guess the bigger resolution this year is to try new things and get outside of my comfort zone.
"I always used to set resolutions, but then over the last couple of years, I didn't want to say it and then not be able to keep it. That doesn't mean there aren't things that I want to do-but calling it a resolution has been too much. So over the last few years, I've had what I call 'unresolutions,' which is when I hold the goal (whatever it is) close to my heart. I don't tell the world that I'm doing it, but it's something I know that I'm doing. But my success with unresolutions over the last few years-eating less dairy, eating less gluten-has inspired me to try resolutions again. This year, I'm just going to lean into it."
Why She's Adding Squats to Her Asanas
"This year, I really want to get into CrossFit. I got into weightlifting a little more last year and I did a private CrossFit class that I loved. [Read about her first CrossFit experience here.] It was such a positive experience... but I'm still scared to just show up to class. I want to do CrossFit so that I can be more specific about my weightlifting goals.
"I love the feeling of being strong. I saw something years ago that said 'people think I'm lifting weights because I want to look different or lose weight, but really I just want to be able to bench press a bear.' Especially as someone who's been talked down to a lot, I have a lot of self-doubt and a lack of confidence, especially physical confidence. I think being able to see what you're physically lifting is an exhilarating feeling. But also, I think of yoga kind of like weightlifting with your own bodyweight, in a way-so having the same mentality, but with actual extra weight-the feeling is very fulfilling for me. Also, it's just a really good complement to everything else I do-hiking, paddleboarding, etc.
"Every time I watch powerlifting competitions, I'm like, 'I can do that. I should be doing that.' Maybe by the end of this year, I'll be training for a competition or something."
The State of Yoga and Body Positivity
"My perspective has changed quite a lot in the last two years. [Here's what she had to say about the topics in 2016, at the beginning of her rise as a yoga celeb.] I've really started to understand that we have to think about both body positivity and yoga as much bigger than what people can see. I think that a lot of the body-positivity movement and a lot of the yoga community get lost in the necessity of showing it to other people. I think it minimizes the overall goal and it means that we can't really reach deep into the spaces that we need to.
"There are so many yoga people that practice all the time, who buy all the leggings, who have all the stuff-but they don't truly know anything about yoga. They're not looking into themselves. They just want to be a part of the trendy fashion thing. I also love fashion, I love my leggings-I get it. And in body positivity, it's become posting a cute selfie on Instagram. I think your self-worth is getting tied up in how many people like that picture of you saying that you're body positive."
"I think what we need to do now is step away from that and actually focus on doing the introspective work that's necessary-then we'll be better off. The way we can encourage one another to do that work is to embody the work ourselves. I'm not out here like, 'You should be body positive! You can do it!' You really can't force people to accept body positivity-except, ultimately, embracing it for yourself, 100 percent of the time. Don't worry about what someone else is doing, worry about what you're doing. That's the way you can actually make a difference." (Next read: Where the Body-Positive Movement Stands, and Where It Needs to Go)